Home prices slide a little bit more, new bottle bill put on hold, bus ridership dips after fare increase, police look for Panera pickpockets, farmers' markets vie for farms

The Capital Region's median home price was down three percent in April compared to the same month a year ago -- and the number of sales was down 23 percent. Around Saratoga, sales of big homes have slowed considerably. Against the regional trend, Albany County saw a median price increase -- though April's $196,000 was still below 2007's mark. Local real estate agents say they're hoping that first-time buyers will be drawn into the market by the federal government's $8k tax credit. [Daily Gazette] [Saratogian] [TU] [Troy Record]

The Troy man picked up earlier this month for being an escaped fugitive from Tennessee says he believes he had a pardon -- because his family paid $20,000 for it. One of the Tennessee's governors in the late 1970s has been accused of running a money for pardons scheme -- he was never convicted of it, but his aides were. [Troy Record] [Saratogian] [Troy Record]

Court filings by people looking to sue the Schenectady School District allege that district officials knew of allegations against Steven Raucci, the former district employee accused of arson and terrorism, as far back as 2005. [Daily Gazette]

A federal judge has issued an injunction against the start of New York's new bottle bill. The judge concluded that June 1 was too early to start the 5 cent deposit on bottled water -- and the NY-only bar code rule for redeemable bottles probably violates the US Constitution's commerce clause. (Earlier on AOA: Better bottle bill bad for beer choice?) [TU] [NYT]

Saratoga Springs' public safety commissioner says the $1.36 million budget cut his department is supposed to make will involve the elimination of more than 40 jobs -- including 19 police officers and 14 firefighters. [TU] [Saratogian]

Three cases of the emerging H1N1 flu virus have been confirmed in Schenectady County. One of the cases involves a student from the Schenectady High School -- district officials say the student has already recovered. [Daily Gazette] [Fox23]

The O.D. Heck aide accused of punching a woman with a developmental disability for spilling her salad was acquitted yesterday. The judge in the case said he believed the eye witness who reported the incident acted in a good faith -- but there is "reasonable doubt" about what the witness saw. [Daily Gazette] [TU]

CDTA reports ridership was off seven percent in April compared to the same month a year ago. The 50 cent fare increase took effect April 1. [Daily Gazette]

Colonie police are looking for a crew that was caught on tape stealing diamonds from a jewelry store in Colonie Center. They're also looking for pickpockets who have reportedly been working the Panera at Latham Farms. [Troy Record] [WNYT]

Some residents of Albany West Hill neighborhood say they worry that not much has changed since the death of Kathina Thomas last year. [CapNews9]

The nation's largest nursing school is Excelsior College -- the distance learning program based here in the Capital Region. [TU]

The seemingly ever-increasing number of local farmers' markets has led to heated competition for farms. [TU]


Not only is the swine flu upon us but apparently so is the musical Oliver!

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